To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill A Mockingbird book cover

“If you just learn a single trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” ~ Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird

I know it’s St. Patrick’s day and I should be writing about A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, or some other book about Ireland, or the Irish experience in America, but I haven’t finished reading Tree yet so that will have to wait for another post.

Instead, I have a confession to make. I did not read To Kill A Mockingbird until about two years ago. I know! How come I was not required to read it in school? Well, perhaps since I had just started elementary school when the book came out in 1960 and the movie came out two years later, it hadn’t become an American icon quite yet even though the book won the Pultzer Prize for literature. So, I was introduced to this amazing story by the movie.

It was probably on one of those Sunday Night at the Movies programs that were so popular back in the dark ages when there were only three TV networks. They were TV “events” showing recently released movies that had received lots of acclaim. The movie won three Oscars and was nominated for five more.

The Sunday Night at the Movies program was a godsend for our family since we lived in a series of small towns most of them with no movie theater. To Kill a Mockingbird became one of our family favorites. Whenever it was on TV ever after, I would watch it sometimes with other family members. But most often I watched it with my father. He and I would discuss the characters, events and main ideas. Loving the movie so much, it’s hard even for me to believe it took so long for me to read the book.

I can’t really say why I never felt compelled to pick up the book. It might be partly because the character of Atticus Finch was so much like my father, the way he interacted with his children was so much like the way my father interacted with my brother, sisters, and me. Or maybe it’s because I don’t understand Southern sensibilities. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest where the outlook on life is very different. I’ve read a number of books about the south and I don’t understand the long held beliefs and emotions that divide classes and races. But, in truth, I think that has more to do with the way I was raised than where I grew up. No matter what the reason, I’m so glad I finally got around to reading the book.

I have another confession to make. To Kill a Mockingbird was the movie that began my life long love for Gregory Peck. There was some core of goodness about him, and most of his characters, no matter how troubled they might be that was reflected through to the audience. I love his work so much that I made sure I got an autographed photograph of him at an International Thespian Festival I attended years ago. That photograph hangs on my office wall above a photo of my father.

Just now as I write this I realize that I didn’t want to spoil the image of Atticus I got from the movie, just in case the book and movie characters were different. I was relieved that Atticus retained the same characteristics in the book that I had so loved in the movie.

Several years ago, when I was teaching high school, I was given the opportunity to acquire a course called The Story of Movies, produced by The Film Foundation in partnership with IBM and Turner Classic Movies. The course is designed to help teachers and students understand how to identify the language of film so they can get the most out their movie going experience. The first of what was supposed to be a series used To Kill A Mockingbird as the source material. There were two things I learned from teaching the course that helped me appreciate this beloved movie even more.

The first is that everything that is in a movie, whether it is part of the setting, costumes, music, or even the opening credits, has a purpose. In a way the audience is receiving subliminal information in every frame of a film. The second is what I pointed out before, the camera shows the audience what to focus upon.

The Story of Movies video and materials pointed out something I had not thought about before. Opening credits are important, especially for older movies, and particularly for this one. The camera focuses on a child’s hands opening an old cigar box while she is singing. She takes out each one of the things in the box. As the credits continue the movie theme music begins underneath the images. All the things that are shown in the box during the opening credits are things Jem shows Scout later in the movie. If you are an avid movie fan, those kinds of details are the extras that enhance your movie watching experience.

There is one scene in the movie that I find extraordinarily moving. It’s the scene after Tom Robinson’s trial is over. Everyone has left the courtroom except Atticus and the black spectators in the upper gallery. As Atticus leaves, they stand up as a show of honor for his efforts to save Tom. The camera takes in the wide shot so we see both Atticus and the people standing. Atticus doesn’t look up to acknowledge their tribute. My throat closes up every time.

There have been times when I felt like I didn’t have the right to weep at this moment because I’m a white woman. I think it’s sad that the black people of Macon are thought of as second class citizens, so much so that even a poor white family is held in higher esteem than they are. It’s such a complicated moment. I always think that Atticus can’t look up because of all the history that divide whites and blacks in his community, or maybe it’s because he doesn’t want to embarrass them, or maybe it’s because he feels that he should have done a better job of defending Tom, or maybe he’s ashamed of the whites in his town for upholding the status quo. All those feelings affect me. I just want the white and the black people to be able to have a clean, open relationship, but for whatever reason, they can’t.

As I said, I felt guilty about my emotion over that moment, until I listened to an interview with a black actor, I think it was with Laurence Fishburn. He nearly wept as he told the interviewer how that same moment in the movie makes him weep every time. He listed the same reasons that affect me so deeply. I felt vindicated. And what he said made me think that no matter how I’m affected by art, that’s a good thing. I should never feel ashamed of expressing my true emotions.

So often we apologize for showing deep emotions, even in our most private moments. When something touches me so deeply that I cry, I feel extremely vulnerable. But it’s in our most vulnerable moments that we have the best opportunity of connecting with others. We don’t apologize for laughing, why apologize for crying? Having come to that conclusion, I’ve vowed not to apologize ever again for weeping when I’m in public.

To Kill a Mockingbird is one case in which the book and the movie are essentially the same. Some of the events and characters are condensed or emphasized differently, but the core message is universal, loving and caring for each other no matter what the circumstances, is extremely important.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting on my posts.

I hope you have a fabulous weekend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. I you prefer a physical book, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.


More Cloud Atlas

“If God did create the world, how do we know which things we can change and which things must remain sacred and inviolate?” ~ David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas 1850 timeline

“We cross and recross our tracks like figure skaters …” ~ David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas 2012 timeline

“Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb we are bound to others past and present and by each crime and every kindness we birth our future.” ~ David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas 2044 timeline

The reason I watch movies, is the same reason I read books. Because I want to learn something. I want to see life through someone else’s eyes. I want to see how other people face their challenges and learn (or don’t learn) from their mistakes.

In the last post I didn’t get to write as much as I wanted to about the movie adaptation of Cloud Atlas and why it made me want to read the book. One of the things I love about both the book and movie is the idea that every life is important no matter how small. And that each soul has the opportunity to grow and progress as they live through many lifetimes.

If you’re an avid reader you know that authors have more leeway, in terms of how they tell their story, than movie makers do. This has always been obvious to me, but I’m surprised at how many people don’t seem to understand that movies and books are different forms of art. A movie is approximately two hours long. So unless you’re creating a mini-series in which you can include more plot points, the screen writer and director must choose the parts of the book that are most relevant to the main idea and leave the rest behind.

Probably the most important short cut to movie storytelling is the use of the camera. It is showing the audience what to pay attention to. Of course, I didn’t realize this when I first began watching. The camera is the omniscient point of view. Sometimes it zooms in on things we’re supposed to notice, or it spins, or shows us a scene from a great height.

When I saw Cloud Atlas for the first time, I knew enough by then to pay attention to what the camera wanted me to notice. When it focused on a comet shaped birthmark on the main characters in each timeline, I knew that was an important plot point. But it wasn’t until the third time this happens in the 1973 storyline, that I began to understand why. Sixsmith, a character we first meet in the story in 1936, comments on the birthmark on Luisa’s shoulder and tells her that he once knew someone with a very similar mark. That’s when I got the idea that this mark is not only telling me who the main character of that timeline is, but that perhaps each new body with the birthmark is inhabited by the same soul.

The idea of reincarnation is subtly reinforced by the fact that the filmmakers use the same actors to play various characters in many of the timelines. In some storylines, a man will play a woman, or visa versa, or they will play a person of one race in one storyline, then a person of another race in another. Once I identified the actors and the roles they played in each storyline, it was interesting to see if that “soul” evolved or not.

One of the strongest ideas of both the book and the movie are the opposing viewpoints that indicate the main theme. The first is a more crude version of a very old idea, “The weak are meat, the strong do eat.” Several characters state this idea in various ways throughout the movie, while other characters oppose this point of view stating that love, truth, and compassion are all more important. I think readers and movie audiences are led to ask “What is true strength? Are the powerful more important than the weak?” We get the answer as each main character is triumphant in their particular timeline.

Adam Ewing’s story from the 1849 timeline sums up the theme in the most profound way. Adam, after arriving home to San Francisco from a mission to acquire slaves for his father-in-law, informs him that he and his wife Tilda are going East to work in the Abolitionist movement. His father-in-law goes on a long tirade, “… Naïve, dreaming Adam. He who would do battle with the many-headed hydra of human nature must pay a world of pain and his family must pay it along with him! And only as you gasp your dying breath shall you understand, your life amounted to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean!” To which Adam replies, “Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?”

That idea makes me weep. There are so many people who think their life means nothing in the grand scheme of things. But we all make contributions to human evolution, even those of us who are considered evil make a contribution, because those are the ones who compel us take a good look at ourselves. And hopefully we say, “I’m not going to be like that! I’m going to be better.”

Cloud Atlas is not the first book or movie to show us that every single person’s life is important even if the names of those people are forgotten by future generations. That’s what I loved about the movie. It’s THAT idea that made me want to go read the book. Both mediums made me feel like I have a contribution to make to the world no matter how small. And I’m the one who decides what that contribution will be.

I hope you find great movie/book connections that inspire you. I believe that reading books and watching movies are wonderful ways to gain a greater understanding about what makes us human.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate your comments and likes.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks, or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical book, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Movie/Book Connections

“Adaptation seems to be, to a substantial extent, a process of reallocating your attention.” ~ Daniel Kahneman

In my last blog post I wrote about feeling restless. That feeling hasn’t gone away completely, but I think I may have hit on a new direction I want to take with these posts. The idea came to me as I was listening to my favorite podcast, “What Do I Read Next”. Almost every guest Anne Bogel has on her show has a unique perspective about books. Some of them have created interesting businesses based on one thing they are interested in that are related to books and writing. I have found every one of Anne’s guests to have an interesting story to tell about what books mean to them, how they choose the books they read, how they organize their libraries, or how books have helped them find friends.

As I was listening to this week’s episode that little bit of inspiration I was asking for came to me. I have always loved movies. When I also became an avid reader, often a movie based on a book would grasp me so deeply that I wanted to read the source material. That is my preferred way to do it, see the movie first and then read the book. However, it’s okay if it happens the other way too, like when I read the Harry Potter series then saw the movies. I know enough about the movie making process that I can forgive not having my favorite book scenes included in the movie.

Thursday night I showed my dramatic structure class the movie, Cloud Atlas. It’s one of my favorites and happens to be one of those movies that sent me searching for the book. The movie had some mixed reviews because it weaves six timelines in and out of each other. Many people found it confusing. The book also has six timelines. The first story which seems to be a historical story, begins in 1849 and abruptly ends in the middle of a sentence. The book then picks up with a gay love story that takes place in 1936, then a mystery in 1973, a comedy in 2012, a dystopian science fiction in 2044 and finally a kind of hopeful fantasy/sci-fi story at the center which takes place in the far future. Once that last story is told, the book continues with the 2044 timeline and the plot moves backward through the timelines ending with the 1849 story. If the movie were structured that way, it would most likely be boring.

One thing I’ve learned by osmosis, and from taking a few film classes is that there are lots of techniques that film makers use to help the audience understand what’s going on. Most of the time we don’t notice the camera angles, shot lengths, details of the setting, costumes, props, lighting and music that give the audience clues about plot and characters. There are also little snippets of dialogue that seem to be offhand, but later play a big part in the plot. The screen play has to pair down the book plot, and as in the case of Cloud Atlas must be structured differently to tell each timeline’s story in an interesting way.

Maybe that’s what I find so fascinating. Movie makers take a book and select the most important parts of it to convey its message to an audience. To do that they use all sorts of visual cues to help us connect emotionally to the characters and story. In my mind, if a movie team succeeds and makes a fabulous movie, that makes me want to go to the source material to see how the movie compares with the book.

I wrote all of the above to say that I’m thinking of writing more posts about movie/book connections that have been both enjoyable and sometimes life changing for me. After telling Barry, my husband, about this idea I began to make a list in my head of all of the movies and mini-series that have inspired me to go find the book. The list is long and varied. Some movies are classics like Ben Hur, or The Valley of Decision, while others are modern retellings of classic novels, still others are based on contemporary books. I was also surprised to find how many different genres are represented in my list.

This project is going to take a long time but I’m looking forward to sharing my favorites with you from time to time.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate your likes and comments.

Have a fun weekend. We’re off to see Black Panther. Who knows maybe I’ll begin reading graphic novels next.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Trying to stay on track

“Life is a series of experiences each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward.” ~ Henry Ford

“We all get where we’re going by circuitous journeys, and some of the setbacks are warranted.” ~ Carol Burnett

Has this ever happened to you? You get an insight about something, or you learn a new skill and your world expands in some way. For awhile your new understanding is glorious and you feel so happy. But not long after something inside you gets frightened and rebels. It sets up an inner conflict which explodes making you feel unsettled and frightened, which causes you to lash out at those around you.

That happened to me last week. I’ve started doing A Course In Miracles daily exercises again this year and I got a profound insight that I wrote about a few posts back. I felt for the first time just how afraid I’ve been most of my life. But the thing is once I got that insight, I saw myself and my relationship to everything as free from fear. I saw myself creating a wonderful new life full of once unimaginable joyful experiences. For a day or two it was a glorious feeling. Then my ego said, “Oh no you don’t. I’m taking control back.” And I began to feel small, and anxious again.

It’s funny the way my ego will use little things to try to reel me back in. This time it was comments from my new critique partners about the first chapter of my new book. I got huffy and wanted to shoot nasty comments back and I even made some nasty comments to my husband about something completely trivial and totally unrelated. When I heard myself, I knew exactly what was happening.

So, I went to my journal to sort out my feelings. Writing always helps me get out the irksome emotions so I can tell my ego to go take a hike. When the negative feelings clear out, I see things much more clearly. What I figured out was that I wasn’t angry with my critique partners or my sweet husband. I was angry that I had let my ego sneak in and try to take control again.

I’ve been at this spiritual, self-awareness work for a long time, and what happened last week should not have come as a surprise to me. It’s always the same, two steps forward and one step back, or at least my ego would like me to take steps back. But once I’ve had that new insight, or learned that new skill, I can’t unsee or unlearn it. It’s kind of like those mind bending pictures artists do to try to get us to see the hidden words, or figures in their work. We stare at the picture and once we see what they’ve hidden, we can’t unsee it.

Even though there are things that unsettle me from time to time, I’m grateful I have the tools of writing and meditation to help me work things out. Sometimes I wonder what it must be like for people who don’t have any way to get rid of their fear. I wish I could help them. Maybe one way I can help is to be honest about my own stumbling journey. Another is to be kind. I’m not always good at either of those especially if I feel threatened, but I’ll keep working on it.

To end this post, I’ll include a review of my first book from a friend of mine sent a day after my little run in with my ego. It was totally unexpected and came just at the right time.

“Recently, I finished reading a book titled, The Space Between Time, by my friend, Lucinda Sage-Midgorden. It was the best book I’ve read in a long time. It kept me captivated, which I have not experienced from any other book for the past couple of years. I loved all the little gems of meaningful and what I call spiritual statements throughout the book. You know, those words that make you pause and think, and sometimes have an “aha” from or a deeper awareness about something. And it was entertaining and informational about some of the history in the 1800’s and yet, contemporary. It also reminded me of the importance of “living in community” and how important it is to help one another and be engaged in your community. Thank you Lucinda for a wonderful, entertaining and captivating book!” ~ Rita Gau

Thanks for reading. I appreciate your taking time out of your week to comment and like my posts.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

When Your Story Takes a Different Direction

“The characters won’t do what I want.” ~ Charles Dickens, The Man Who Invented Christmas

“Wherever my story takes me, however dark and difficult the theme, there is always some hope and redemption, not because readers like happy endings, but because I am an optimist at heart. I know the sun will rise in the morning that there is a light at the end of every tunnel.” ~ Michael Morpurgo

“Every story I create, creates me. I write to create myself.” ~ Octavia E. Butler

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” ~ Philip Pullman

I used to think that writing was a matter of sitting down and letting the story pour forth in it’s completely finished form. Boy was I wrong!

When I began writing the book that became The Space Between Time, the story was going to be about the loving relationship between a daughter and her father in the years leading up to the Civil War. My initial inspirations were my relationship with own father and my pioneering ancestors. It was going to be a fictional chronicle of the wisdom my father had shared with me over the years.

I began writing the book after one particular visit when I knew that my father’s health had taken a definite downturn. That was in 1998 or ’99. But I had to stop writing because I began teaching full-time. When I picked up the book again in 2010, the story wanted to go in a different direction. Time had changed crucial elements about my story since my father had been dead for six years. Morgan now had to deal with the death of her father, and since her mother was also dead, she had an opportunity to build an new life. The link between Morgan and her father was not broken, but the talks I had envisioned had to be altered. Now she remembered things he taught her, and occasionally he came to her in spirit form when she needed him.

As I worked on my book, there came a point when I had written all I knew how to write about Morgan’s life. Something was nagging to be included in the story, but what it was was not quite clear to me. Then as I’ve written in previous posts, the inspiration came from another author. Originally I had thought that Morgan would be the main character and her life would somehow be aided, or intertwined with someone in our present time, but I couldn’t see or hear the story of the character in the present. It was as if I knew the character was there, but she was behind a veil, or off having ice cream, or hanging out with friends. Whatever she was up to, she wasn’t available to tell me her story.

However, when the fellow author suggested I intertwine the present timeline with the past, I knew he was right. That’s when Jenna began to reveal herself to me. Her life had been shattered too just like Morgan’s, only for her it happened all in one day. Her fiancé broke off their engagement, her mother died in a car accident and she lost her job. She needed to rebuild her life. As I listened to Jenna, I realized I was writing about the time when I lost a most beloved teaching position. Because of our connection, Jenna needed to be the main character. Once she told me that she would find the journals of her three-times great-grandmother linking their experiences, I was filled with all kinds of new story possibilities for both of my heroines.

Later, of course, another writer friend helped me by suggesting I spread out Jenna’s self-awakening more slowly. This forced me to remember how I had managed to rebuild my life. As I dredged up old memories, I used them to enhance the link between Jenna and Morgan as they helped each other through all kinds of challenges.

I’ve had friends and family, who have read the book, ask me how I came up with all the details of my story. What I tell them is that I did it a little at a time. For me, writing is a little bit like a scavenger hunt. (Do they have those any more?) I get a snippet of story and work on it until it feels like it’s done, at least for the present. Then another snippet comes to me usually just as I’m waking up in the morning, and I begin working on that new section, and on it goes until I have a finished draft.

When I finished the rough draft of The Space Between Time, I thought I was finished with Jenna and Morgan’s story. However, it wasn’t long before a new segment of their story nagged at the back of my mind and the sequel, Time’s Echo was born.

To tell you the truth, where the ideas for these books came from is a bit of a mystery. I mean, for a long time I wanted to be a writer, but I didn’t know how to put my ideas into a coherent form. Nevertheless, once I got the concept for The Space Between Time, it simmered on the back burner of my mind, even when I was extremely busy teaching. Finally the day came when the stew was ready to be served and I started writing. Now that it’s finished, I’m in a little bit of awe of how my writing process has evolved and that the ideas in this book have led to the next book. And not only that, I have ideas for books of different kinds.

I have to say I’m hooked on this wonderful creative process. Now I write not only to make sense out of my own life, but to see where my imagination will take me. So, the moral of this post is that I have to keep writing.

There are many stories to be told by me, and other people, which means there are lots of different stories to be enjoyed. So, help your favorite storytellers by spreading the word about their work. Believe me, the creators will be grateful you did because, the main challenge for an author is to get their story noticed.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate your likes and comments.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Questions I’ve Had for a Long Time

Hypatia, Greek Alexandrian Philosopher

“I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.” ~ Jane Austen, Persuasion

“There are two powers in the world; one is the sword and the other the pen. There is a great competition and rivalry between the two. There is a third power stronger than both, that of the women.” ~ Muhammad Ali Jinnah

“I do not think, sir, you have any right to command me, merely because you are older than I, or because you have seen more of the world than I have; your claim to superiority depends on the use you have made of your time and experience.” ~ Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

“These days, however, I am much calmer – since I realized that it’s technically impossible for a woman to argue against feminism. Without feminism, you wouldn’t be allowed to have a debate on women’s place in society. You’d be too busy giving birth on the kitchen floor – biting down on a wooden spoon, so as not to disturb the men’s card game – before going back to quick-liming the dunny. This is why those female columnists in the Daily Mail – giving daily wail against feminism – amuse me. They paid you £1,600 for that, dear, I think. And I bet it’s going in your bank account, and not your husband’s. The more women argue loudly, against feminism, the more they both prove it exists and that they enjoy its hard-won privileges.” ~ Caitlin Moran, How to be a Woman

As I woke up this morning I was thinking about my new novel, Time’s Echo, with the main theme of women fighting for their rights. Then I saw the new Time cover with “Person of the Year”, which this year is actually all The Silence Breakers. The cover has several women on it who have blown the whistle on how men in power abused them. I gave a little cheer, as I do every time a woman speaks up and people believe her.

Those two things brought up lots of old questions that I’ve been asking since I was harassed for choosing religious studies as my major forty-one years ago. I wanted to know then, and I still want to know, what makes men think they have the right to tell me what to do with my life? And that’s just one little part of my internal feud with the male dominated societies we live in.

It’s not just men, of course, who want to make themselves feel more secure by trying to control their outer world. We all do it and I don’t understand why. Well, that’s not exactly true. I do understand why we do it. We do it because we’re afraid, and because it’s easier to blame something or someone outside ourselves than to do the work necessary to make a real and lasting change in ourselves. Some people think it’s just too much work.

But, at what point did we assume that we know what is best for other people and try to get them to live their lives as we would prescribe?

Maybe it’s a silly exercise, but for some reason I feel like I can’t go on with my book until I can pinpoint the moment we, as a species, went off the rails. My ultimate goal for Time’s Echo is to not only write about what is wrong with female/male relationships, but to suggest some solutions as well. I know – it’s just a novel. But for some reason I can’t proceed until I can offer some hope.

In my imagination I go back to the beginning of the human race and see women taking roles that their brains are programed to perform, and men doing the same thing. Men and women worked as a team. But then something happened and men decided that they needed to take over and control everything including women. What made women agree to this clearly unhealthy and detrimental situation?

I’m only an amateur student of history and brain research, but even I can see that men’s and women’s brains work differently. (See, Men are Mars, Women are from Venus for a clue.) I don’t need to enumerate those differences that have been coming to light over the last century or so. But this is what I think might have happened. Women were so busy taking care of the children, managing everyday tasks like, foraging for edible and medicinal plants, cooking, making a home and clothing, taking care of the children, and tending the sick and wounded, that they allowed men to take on the more aggressive tasks of brining home food from the hunt, building homes and community structures, and protecting the family group. Over time somehow men thought their tasks were more important. I mean their brains were wired for conflict and protection which in my mind, naturally led to possession. Maybe women were too busy to notice this subtle shift from team player to dominator until it was too late. And women being decidedly less aggressive, allowed men to take on this new role. But I can also imagine that ancient women might have looked on this new kind of man, as immature. “Oh, they’ll grow up soon and we’ll be able to be full partners again.” Meanwhile the drive to produce children was strong in both men and women, so an uneasy alliance was formed. That was many, many centuries ago. Women are still waiting for men to grow up.

Not long ago I turned on the TV and the DVR was set to my favorite station, TCM. A movie was in progress. A husband and wife were having a discussion. The wife was packing to leave. The husband said, “I don’t understand. Why are you leaving?” To which the wife replied, “Oh, Bob, what a child you are.” Bob’s response is the part that made me stop what I was doing and get info on the movie. He said, “Of course, I am. All men are children. They like to play and chase toy balloons.” The name of the movie is Madam Satan (1930), a title I hate, by the way. But that little bit of dialogue made something click in my head. Women want true partners not only in marriage but in all aspects of life, but sometimes don’t find them. They marry little boys who are chasing balloons, and other bits of fun, which makes them too busy to be true partners. It happens that way in business too. And in those situations, women are left to pick up the pieces.

I don’t want you think that I hate men. I was raised by an amazing father who was mature, loving, responsible, respectful, and who understood human nature. I was also fortunate to be surrounded by other great men. I married one. These men gave me hope that one day, the child/men were going to finally grow up. Thankfully, we’re finally seeing it happen.

Men have ruled the world for centuries, but I can’t put all the blame on them. For whatever reason, we women have allowed this situation to be perpetuated. And our efforts to gain some measure of autonomy has twisted us in weird ways. I’m writing in generalities here, which is always dangerous, but nevertheless, I believe my observations to be accurate for at least some women. We women became expert manipulators. We learned how to make men think they came up with some great ideas, in other words the “woman behind the man” concept. We have become competitive with each other over the “best” men, or life situation. We’ve hidden our intelligence. We’ve allowed men to use and abuse us to maintain security, all of which has shattered our collective feelings of self-worth. Of course, there have been women who have not allowed men to dominate their ambitions, or take away their power. They stand out as fantastic examples for the rest of us. I think those women helped the rest of us wake up to all the possibilities we have been missing out on.

Thank heaven there is now a definite change in long held attitudes. It’s going to take us a very long time to unravel our old ways of thinking and discover new ways to relate to each other.

But this is what I’d like to see happen from this day forward: More cooperation and less competition between men and women in government, business, and all aspects of society. I want more women in leadership positions so we can have discussions about how to come up with real solutions to all of our world problems. I want every person to have a roof over their heads, food on the table, education, access to health care, and a job they can be proud of. I want us to respect each other. Making that dream come true probably won’t happen in my lifetime. That doesn’t matter. I’ll keep hoping, writing, and working for that outcome anyway.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate your likes and comments.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

‘Tis the Season 3

Aunt Nila and Me on a snowy Arizona day.

“One thing I like about historical fiction is that I’m not constantly focusing on me, or people like me; you’re obliged to concentrate on lives that are completely other than your own.” ~ Emma Donoghue

“Cultural concepts are one of the most fascinating things about historical fiction.” ~ Diana Gabaldon

“The thing that most attracts me to historical fiction is taking the factual record as far as it is known, using that as scaffolding, and then letting imagination build the structure that fills in those things we can never find out for sure.” ~ Geraldine Brooks

As you might have guessed from the quotes above, today I’m focusing on authors of historical fiction. I agree with all three of those above quotes. Each one expresses why I love historical fiction. It’s fun imagining what it might have been like to live during those times having to cope with the wars, or travel, or political situations, or just daily life. So, today I want to share some authors of historical fiction that I have not only enjoyed reading, but who have transported me to new locations and time periods in such a vivid way that I could imagine living there.

Zoe Saadia

Zoe Saadia has written “several novels of pre-Columbian Americas.” The first of her novels I read was Two Rivers book one of The Peacemaker series. In this series, Two Rivers is a member of one of the Iroquois tribes. He’s fed up with the perpetual raiding and fighting that goes on among the different tribes of the area and comes up with a plan to unite all the people into one great league. You have probably seen the symbol of this confederation on our money, the eagle holding a group of arrows his its talons, the idea being that we are stronger together than we are separate.

What attracted me to this series was the fact that I learned of the Iroquois Great League for the first time while teaching American Literature at the high school level. When I read Two Rivers, I was hooked and bought the entire series. I was riveted not just to the political intrigue, but the subtle differences of each tribe’s practices and culture.

I’ve read other of Ms. Saadia’s books in The Rise of the Aztec, and The Pre-Aztec series,The Highlander, and The Young Jaguar respectively, and plan to finish each of those series as well as the other books she has written. One of the things that impresses me about her writing is the respect for and imagination she shows in creating fully formed cultures.

Zoe contacted me after the review I wrote about Two Rivers, she was so thrilled. And she even read a couple versions of my novel, The Space Between Time. She gave me great feedback. I highly recommend her books and I will keep reading her work.

Octavia Randolph

I’m intrigued by the middle ages. I tend to read lots of historical fiction that takes place during that vast time period. I’m not sure why, except that it may have to do with books like Octavia Randolph’s The Circle of Ceridwen Saga. These books take place during the early Medieval period. The first book, The Circle of Ceridwen begins in 871 England where the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms face a new invading group, the Vikings. If you’ve been watching The Vikings on The History Channel, you might be interested in this set of books. I had a naive notion about this time period. But this series taught me a great deal about trade routes and the goods and services that were available. Ms. Randolph takes the reader into a richly drawn set of cultures and characters. I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I also learned of the island of Gotland, a province of Sweden, in the Baltic Sea from reading this series. I do not ever remember learning about it in school. Now I want to go there.

Jean Gill

Jean Gill’s The Troubadours Quartet, takes place in the 1150s France, the Holy Land, and England. The first of this series is Song at Dawn. I haven’t finished this series yet, but again, Ms. Gill draws the reader into a new world of Crusades, court intrigue on large and small levels not to mention, the life of the troubadours.

Another thing I loved about this series is the research Ms. Gill did into the healing arts and practices, the herbs used and other medical procedures that were available to the people of that time period. I’m excited to finish reading this series because of all the new things I learn in each book.

When we think of artists, we think mostly of those of the Renaissance, but as each of these series show, the arts, both creative and healing, were alive and well even in pre-historic times.

I hope I haven’t bored, but inspired you to pick up one of these series, or gift them to family and friends who are avid readers.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate your likes and comments.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

‘Tis the Season 2

It’s a Wonderful Life Village

“Our job in this life is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.” ~ Steven Pressfield

“To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.” ~ Douglas Adams

Artists are people who try to interpret the world. For the most part we are attempting to express something we feel that is difficult to express in words. We create dances, or paintings, to evoke those feeling. Writer’s struggle, not always because we’re lazy, or find housework more interesting, but because putting things as nebulous as deep emotions into something as imprecise as words is extremely difficult. People who are not artists do not always appreciate the soul searching, time and effort, not to mention the cost of materials, it takes to create that work of art that they think is too expensive. But when you buy a work of art, you’re buying more than the canvas, paints, entertainment, or paper and words. You’re buying communication between the creator’s soul and yours. For this reason, I want to continue promoting the work of my writer friends and acquaintances.

The two authors I encourage you to check out today are women who have done a wonderful job of expressing deep emotions in their work.

Julie Christine Johnson

I met Julie online. I’m not sure where, probably Facebook. She was enormously encouraging to me as I was writing The Space Between Time so when her first novel, In Another Time, was published I was anxious to read it. Some of the elements are very similar to my novel. There is a woman who’s life has fallen apart, two time periods with some time travel elements, and the protagonist experiences some extraordinary experiences just like the women in my novel. But In Another Time takes place mostly in France. The reader can learn a great deal about the Cathars, a religious sect active during the middle ages. They were wiped out by the Catholic Church in the 1600s, if I remember correctly. This book is one many women have enjoyed but I think men can also relate to the characters and events of the story. I haven’t read Julie’s second book yet, The Crows of Beara. It takes place in Ireland. I have it on my long wish list. Julie’s writing is beautiful and her books would make wonderful Christmas gifts.

Stacy Bennett

Stacy is another person I met through Facebook. We are both members of a writer’s group there. When her first novel, Quest of the Dreamwalker came out, I was very excited to read it. It’s a fantasy, my favorite genre, and it had a women protagonist. When I downloaded it to my Kindle and began reading, I was hooked from the very first page. This fantasy novel takes place in a fictional world in a medieval type time period with an evil wizard, a war, mercenary soldiers, and an Amazon like society of mystics and warrior women protected by a ring of trees with leaves that become sharp blades if a man ventures into their realm. But the way the plot unfolds is original and unexpected. The relationships among the group of main characters is an important part of the story. I was so taken with this novel, that I gladly purchased a novella Stacy wrote to keep her fans happy while she finishes the second in the Dreamwalker series. That novella is Tales of the Archer. I loved it as much as the first novel even though it is about two of the side characters in her original story. It may be some time before Stacy can finish the sequel to Quest of the Dreamwalker, because like most authors, she has to work at a regular job to support her writing habit. I’ll be ready to read her second novel no matter when it comes out. However, in the mean time, you can enjoy the above mentioned books and one other by Stacy, Son of Anubis, which is also on my wish list.

Please don’t forget, if you get books for Christmas, whether they are these or others on your wish list, share how much you love them with your friends, ask your local bookstore and library to carry them. If you belong to a book club group, suggest the books to the group, and best of all write a review on Goodreads, Amazon, or other booksellers sites. Reviews help authors sell more books.

Thanks for reading, writing comments and pressing the like button. I appreciate it very much.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

‘Tis the Season

Small Christmas Tree

“Your personal life, your professional life, and your creative life are all intertwined. I went through a few very difficult years where I felt like a failure. But it was actually really important for me to go through that. Struggle, for me, is the most inspirational thing in the world at the end of the day – as long as you treat it that way.” ~ Skylar Grey

“I’ve had the thought that a person’s ‘artistic vision’ is really just the cumulative combination of whatever particular stances he has sincerely occupied during his creative life – even if some of those might appear contradictory.” ~ George Saunders

“It took me a long time to even dare to envision myself as a writer. I was very uncertain and hesitant and afraid to pursue a creative life.” ~ Jhumpa Lahiri

I just finished reading Love Life, With Parrots by my friend Cappy Love Hanson. It’s a wonderful memoir. We had lunch this week with another writing friend, Debrah Strait and just as I was arriving at our favorite Chinese restaurant, I got the idea to promote the books of some of my face-to-face and online writer friends during this holiday season. I figure it’s good karma. So this week I’ll tell you a little bit about Cappy and Debrah’s books.

Debrah Strait

I’ll begin with Debrah because I’ve read three of her books and loved all of them. The thing that is interesting about Debrah is that she doesn’t write just one genre. I’ve read rough drafts of screen plays, science fiction stories, her flash fiction book, Flash of the Pen, her novel, The Sweet Trade, and her latest book, Notes from Bisbee: Twenty years of Living with Rattlesnakes, Killer Bees, and Folks in Need of Supervision. This latest book I read as Debrah was developing it, and there were several times I laughed out loud partly because I live near Bisbee and know it’s reputation, but also because of the way Debrah described events and people.

Each of her books has a different flavor, if I can use that as a writing metaphor. But each one is poignant, serious, adventurous, funny, and they make you think. Even in her nonfiction stories the characters are vivid. I could almost hear their voices in my head as I read each holiday letter.

The first finished book of Debrah’s I read was The Sweet Trade. It’s a pirate novel and even though I’m not a big fan of pirate novels, I knew enough about Debrah’s writing that I wanted to read it. This is one of a handful of books I’ve read that grasped me from the first sentence. I wanted to know what happened to Dirk and his young friends as their village is destroyed and their families killed. As they try to survive, they get tangled up in the world of pirates in the mid-1600s Caribbean. This is a great book for anyone on your list who loves adventure. It’s got historical figures, battles, shipwrecks and even romance, something to appeal to almost anyone.

If you like stories with quirky characters, Notes from Bisbee might be for you, especially since the characters in this book are real people which proves that sometimes reality is stranger than fiction.

Cappy Love Hanson

I have to say, I’m not usually a big fan of memoirs, but again, since I knew Cappy and a little bit about her writing, I wanted to read her book. I’m always amazed at people who are able to lay out their life on the page in such a vulnerable way. Cappy does this. We suffer through her various romantic relationships as she tries to learn to love herself and find that one lasting love all the while being supported by the relationship she has with her parrots.

Cappy’s book has adventure as well. She describes a horrific car accident that she should not have survived, and the subsequent healing process she went through which included her struggles to find work. She also describes relationship issues with family members that most of us can relate to. Love Life, With Parrots is an affirmation that no matter what challenges we face, there can be love and support for us if we keep trying to find it and give it.

I hope you will consider purchasing one of these wonderful independently published books for yourself, or a loved one because writers and artists have to pay the bills too. And remember to write a review on Amazon, Goodreads, social media, or your favorite bookseller. That’s how we writers attract new readers.

Thanks for reading, liking and leaving comments. I appreciate it very much.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Before You Buy Those Christmas Gifts

Horse Sculpture by Alan Potter

“Giving gifts to others is a fundamental activity, as old as humanity itself. Yet in the modern, complex world, the particulars of gift-giving can be extraordinarily challenging.” ~ Andrew Weil

“I think it would be bad for culture and the art if artists and people who develop the apparatus to support those artists don’t get paid.” ~ Lyor Cohen

“We have to support our local artists. It’s just that simple. Otherwise, we will have no art.” ~ Al Jourgensen

My husband and I are lucky. We have lots of artist friends and our house is filled with beautiful artwork, much of which my husband has created, or traded for. Yet, only recently, since I published my first book, did I understand just how important it is to buy original artwork.

Don’t get me wrong, I love getting the gift cards so I can buy the things I’ve been wanting, and the other thoughtful gifts people give me. But the most meaningful gifts are when someone gives me original artwork. On a recent birthday my mother-in-law gave me a pair of hand carved busts of an African man and woman. I cried when I opened them, they were so beautiful. And I love the handmade earrings and necklaces, and other artwork my husband buys for me from his artist friends. And, of course, I love getting books.

This past week was the annual Art in the Park in our home town. We took Barry’s parents so they could buy a gift for their neighbors who have been picking up their mail. I thought it was nice that they wanted to give them a handmade gift. After they purchased the gift, we visited a potter friend of Barry’s. He and his wife had invited us to dinner one Christmas season when Barry’s parents were visiting. It was fun for them to connect again. Alan creates whimsical figures, mostly of animals. I have always loved his horses. As I looked around the booth I saw the beautiful horse figure pictured above and I decided to buy it. I did this following advice I recently read about supporting fellow authors. It’s important to buy their book, even if you aren’t going to read it, because it supports all the hard work they put into creating the book, and it’s good karma. I think that principle can be applied to supporting local artists as well. Art is a reflection of someone’s soul. Buying those that speak to you enriches our life. Yet, often people balk at paying so much for a piece of artwork not appreciating the time and effort expended in its creation.

One day when my sister and I were talking about the situation in this country, a kind of radical idea struck me. We have been brainwashed into thinking that buying goods and services for the least amount of money possible is a good thing. That’s why Walmart, Costco, the Dollar Store and other stores of that type have sprung up all over the country. We have been encouraged to buy cheap, kitchy stuff that we don’t really need. Slowly the idea of buying cheap, then when it breaks, buying another equally cheap item to replace it, has become the norm. We’ve never stopped to think who benefits from planned obsolesce? What happened to the notion that when we need to make a purchase, we should first consider the quality of what we want to buy?

Barry and I spent last Christmas with his family, and I was happy to hear our nephew and his wife say that they were saving money to buy a dining room set made by a local master craftsmen. It was going to be an expensive purchase, but they wanted it BECAUSE it was handmade with great care and would last many, many years. I loved that!

There are certain things that are worth spending a great deal of money on. As my father used to say, “Buy the best and you will never be sorry.” So, I’ve begun to change my ideas when it comes to buying clothing, books, and other household items. Knowing that I’ve purchased the best just makes me feel good. Buying artwork to enrich my home gives me very much the same feeling. I’m not only paying for the piece, but the time the artist spent making it, and their artistic vision.

I hope to begin a trend of showing appreciation for wonderful craftsmanship by taking the time to consider giving quality handmade Christmas gifts this year. They don’t have to be expensive, but it would be nice if they were unique and well made. If you do this, you will help support an artist so they can continue to make beautiful things for us to admire and appreciate.

Thanks for reading, commenting, and liking my posts. I appreciate it very much.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel. It’s available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.